AALS Balance Section Topic Call: New Lawyer Well-being Research: An Imperative to Redefine “Success” for our Students? Presented by Prof. Larry Krieger

Dear Colleagues,

The AALS Balance Section invites you to participate in a topic call about lawyer well-being and satisfaction, with Prof. Larry Krieger presenting his findings and data from 6200 lawyers in 4 states.  As you will see, the findings may have important implications for who is genuinely “successful” in law school, and consequently for how and what we teach as well.  Here are the details.  Please forward this invitation to your colleagues.


AALS Balance Section Topic Call: New Lawyer Well-being Research: An Imperative to Redefine “Success” for our Students?  Presented by Prof. Larry Krieger


October 9, 2015, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. PST

Call-in #:

(712) 432-1500, access code 1062814#


Please see the topic discussion below and attached PowerPoint slides that may be viewed here:

Krieger Topic Call-AALS Balance

HappyLwr stdtBrief3 15 (Professor Krieger uses the linked slides here in presentations for students and lawyers, and is fine with others downloading them for similar use.)


Presentation by our speaker Larry Krieger, followed by discussion


New Well-being Research: An Imperative to Redefine “Success” for our Students?

Hello all.  I’m delighted to be part of the topic call programs sponsored by our Section on Balance in Legal Education.   The call will be based on findings from my study with Dr. Ken Sheldon, now published (83 Geo. Wash. L.R.) and also viewable in final form at:  http://ssrn.com/abstract=2398989  .  The paper documents our data from 6200 lawyers in four states, and sheds light on the apparent contributions of many kinds of factors to the well-being and satisfaction of those lawyers.

Perhaps the most important pattern and overall finding is that the objective factors typically associated with “success” for a law student or lawyer in our society show weak (even nil in some cases) relationships with lawyer happiness. At the same time, these factors (including, for example, grades/class rank, law review membership, affluence/income, law school debt, USNWR law school ranking, and making partner in a law firm) are all competitive and therefore anxiety-inducing.  Indeed, most of the stress and depression/discouragement among law students and lawyers is typically attributed to such factors.

Complementing these findings, the data also highlight several non-competitive, personal and subjective factors (including authenticity/integrity, altruistic and community values, close relationships, and passion for one’s chosen work) to be the actual, quite powerful determinants of lawyer happiness and satisfaction.

These and related findings should, I believe, lead us to question the very definition of “success” and “quality of life” shared by our and other modern cultures. Since the dominant paradigm of “success” determines the life priorities, focus, and primary effort of most people, if that paradigm does not bring happiness do we decide that it is flawed or dysfunctional?  If so, how might educators (especially legal educators for this discussion) effectively impart this information and thereby shift the priorities of their students?

I hope you can take at least a quick look at the study report before the call, but if not please do join us regardless.  And while all thoughts are welcome, I hope we can focus on two fundamental questions:

**What do you consider the most important or meaningful finding(s)?

**Do you see a way to use one or more of the findings in your work with students or lawyers, whether teaching, counseling, advising, or mentoring?  (You may already be working in this area, or may have ideas for how you might in view of these findings now.)

I will provide a brief summary of the findings, and look forward to hearing as many thoughts and voices as possible given our time.

Best and thanks to all, Larry

One Response

  1. Great post, Jessica! Larry’s work has been informative for years, and I’m glad to see it getting attention again—it’s really important information!

Comments are closed.

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